Transition Planning

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Leaving full-time work is an intensely personal journey. One that’s challenging, exciting, sometimes uncertain and so much more than a financial decision. It presents a unique opportunity to create a new life that’s both rich and rewarding and as one of the biggest life changes we ever make, requires careful thought and planning. We talk to Peter McKnoulty, one of the first  Australian based Transition Planners about what he does and how it could help you to get ready for retirement.

So what is transition planning?

It’s a process that helps business owners, executives and professionals plan a rewarding and fulfilling life after work. We help them create a personal transition plan, a plan for their ideal life of purpose and contentment after business or career. We also help business owners create a business transition plan to enable them to transition out of their business to their ideal life successfully – both personally and financially.

You’re a lawer, why did you move into this arena?

In my role as a Succession Planning Lawyer I specialised in taxation, business structures and estate planning and in recent years concentrated on family and business succession planning. I’d noticed that many clients approaching retirement were not really focusing on their succession/retirement strategy. I could also see that they were not mentally prepared for life after business and work. Many of them faced an identity crisis – they didn’t know who they were if they were not a successful executive, and they feared a lack of purpose in their life after their business or career had ended. Because of these concerns, these professionals were often hanging on to their business and often then didn’t leave their business well – with adverse personal and financial consequences. Plus, everyone I talked to about transition planning knew of friends or relatives who hadn’t properly prepared for their life post retirement, and now they were retired they were bored and unhappy. This often caused stress to them and their families. So I went searching for a way to help them move on successfully, and discovered The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Boston (STPI). Their vision is to help professionals through the succession process – which they view as a transition – with programs designed to assist them

What qualifications do you have to do this?

I completed the STPI training course and am a certified Transition Planning Consultant. I have taken the Australian and New Zealand rights to the STPI material, and have four more TPCs trained in Australia. Our plan is to grow this network over time.

What would someone get out of doing this with you?

As a Transition Planning Consultant I (and my team) can give qualified expert advice to support planning the personal side of their transition, focusing on their dreams and desires, relationships goals and unique circumstances. Using a unique balanced approach to thinking, we help them explore several aspects of their life after work and plan activities they look forward to. The process opens them to exciting and rewarding options they never thought possible. Transition Planning Consultants also work with owners to develop their tailored business transition plan to assist them to work with their team of advisers to increase the value of their business, identify potential buyers, and then successfully transition the business to those new owners in the most personally and financially rewarding way.

Wouldn’t it be the same as working with a financial adviser or accountant?

We’re not financial advisers or accountants. Actually, we work with financial advisers to complement and enhance the services they offer to their clients – we bridge the gap by helping clients plan the personal side of their transition. A financial adviser has to understand their client’s lifestyle needs to properly prepare their financial plan retirement. Our personal transition plan enables a client to determine their ideal lifestyle so they can then work with their financial adviser on their financial plan. A business owner preparing their business transition plan will work with their accountant on issues such as business valuation, taxation, business structures, and the sale process. We can enhance the value of the services an accountant or financial adviser offers to their clients. We plan to work with Industry and Professional Associations who see transition planning as something they can promote to, and so add value to, their members.

How much does it cost?

Each of the programs costs a few thousand dollars. The personal transition plan program involves a two day workshop where the participant works with experienced consultants and brainstorms with other participants, relying on extensive resources and information provided by us. There’s also ongoing support and follow-up. With business owners, we provide them with a template to work with their advisers to increase the value of their business. Thus the investment in a business transition plan can be recovered many times over through the increased value of their business.

Is it worth it?

The investment people make in transition planning can provides lifelong value where they will be rewarded with a new way of living that’s invigorating and deeply satisfying.

Peter McKnoulty has been a partner with McCullough Robertson lawyers in Brisbane for 25 years. He’s also the founder of Transition Planning Australia. If you would like to contact him about Transition Planning you can reach him via or by email at

Disclaimer: This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. BT is not recommending the services of Peter McKnoulty or Transition Plan.

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